I really don’t like being a difficult person. I am usually a go-with-the-flow kind of gal. But, I do have a number of dietary restrictions that can become an unnecessary source of pre-party stress. It has taken me years to figure out how to be less uptight about social gatherings involving food—don’t suffer for as long as I did! Use these tips to put the fun back into your social life.
Be clear with yourself. If you’ve been invited to a party, understand what you will and will not consume ahead of time. Life is short, so I sometimes make exceptions for a really stellar craft beer or a warm, sourdough croissant (specifically when I have been sleeping in a tent out in Colorado for days). A girl’s gotta enjoy life. But, any exceptions I make have to be extraordinary. Supermarket cupcakes are completely off my radar, for example. Figure out where you draw the line that will best balance your dietary health and mental wellness.
Check in with your host. That is, if they haven’t reached out to you first. Explain your dietary restrictions and that you are going to bring a dish that you (and everyone else) can enjoy. Of course, if your host is super awesome and loves you a whole lot, they may already have dishes with you in mind, so be sure to give a friendly check in!
Bring something for everyone. Even if it is not a potluck situation, don’t hesitate to bring something along that you can eat. It can help put your mind at ease and experience less pre-party anxiety. Just make sure you bring enough for everyone. Don’t be that person who hoards a whole platter to themselves. Avoid alcohol? Bring the makings for tasty mocktails so that you are not stuck with plain sparkling water all night. Mocktails are a fun and tasty interlude for everyone, even those who partake in a few glasses of wine. By being a little creative and taking charge of your dietary restrictions, you can make the party more fun for everyone.
Be polite. This is kindergarten stuff. Don’t just say, “ew” or “I can’t eat this” or “heck no, that stuff is so bad for you!” That is incredibly rude and, frankly, a little health elitist. Instead, explain that the food looks delicious, but you don’t handle gluten/dairy/nuts/eggs well. The same goes for vegetarians and vegans. To each her own, so be polite when someone offers you food that is outside of your wellness plan. We all have our own path.
Have a script prepared. Inevitably, someone is going to offer you a heaping spoonful of something you cannot eat. And you will say, “No thanks, it looks amazing but I can’t eat –blank–.” Odds are, they will ask more questions. They aren’t trying to be rude, but most people are just curious. Figure out an easy way to answer this awkward intrusion and make it as politely curt as possible. I usually opt for, “I get sick when I eat gluten/dairy/refined sugar… but hey did you hear about so-and-so’s new art project!” That statement is not entirely true, but it stops the line of questioning from diving into more personal territory. Also, pulling a politician and quickly changing the subject is always a smart move. There are more interesting things to talk about in the world than your diet, after all.
Parties should be a celebration of friendship and love, not a time to stress about not being able to eat anything. Sure, you aren’t as carefree as your non-restricted counterparts and it is going to take a little prep work, but having the knowledge that allows you to keep yourself healthy and feeling great is a gift that you shouldn’t sneer at. Go have fun and be grateful for all the love and good in your life.